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CLEAR SKIES and mainly dry conditions will continue across the region today. Temperatures will generally be similar to yesterday. Friday and into the weekend temperatures will warm more each day through Sunday. Inland areas may see highs near 90 on Sunday. Next week temperatures will start cool off as the ridge begins to break down. (NWS)
3 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
THE BOONVILLE HOTEL
Jeff Burroughs: "While a docent at the little red school house museum I was browsing through some of the old stuff in the drawers when I found an old Boonville Hotel ledger and as I thumbed through the pages of signatures I saw Jack London's signature. I put the ledger out where people could see it with a post it note along side the ledger pointing to the signature. I don't think the museum even knew they had this little gem in their piles of old stuff."
Geoffrey Brown writes: “Actually, the Boonville Hotel is circa 1870s and my uncle, “Big” Avon was born in 1884 I think. This is where Jack London stopped for an overnight stay as he and his wife returned from the Mendocino Coast. Jack had been on assignment from a New York newspaper to cover the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He and the wife then went to Santa Rosa, followed by the Coast visit. He rode on horseback to the Hotel from the Coast which at that time was called, Mrs. Berry's Place. London's wife kept a journal of the trip and I read it at the S.F. Historical Society. Those pioneer journals are where the history lies and in my opinion no historian has yet done them justice. Avon may have helped in Hotel repair at some point, I have home movies of him on the roof of our Grange Hall and he built a lot of excellent fire places in the Valley.”
ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING is selling hundreds of whole whiskey barrels for $10 a piece.
We previously used them to age beer in, and they are ready for a new home. Great for chopping in half for your garden. Stop by the brewery to pick up, or for more information give us a call during business hours at (707) 895-2337 ex123. Cheers!
DROUGHT? WHAT DROUGHT?
by Mark Scaramella
Supervisor Glenn McGourty conducted his own “Workshop on Water Supply Conditions in Mendocino County” before his colleagues Monday. McGourty spent upwards of two hours with Powerpoint charts and graphs and hosted several local water experts he introduced to convince his colleagues that — surprise! — we’re in a drought. In fact, the drought is so bad that the Redwood Valley Water District — historically the last in line for Lake Mendocino water — has already shut off all of its ag customers, some 200 of them, in late March for the year, telling them they’re on their own for water.
McGourty, perhaps worried that something like that might be imposed on his Potter Valley vineyard constituents, proposed that the County approve a toothless “drought preparedness campaign” to urge voluntary water conservation, conspicuously avoiding even the mention of a drought declaration like the one the County made in 2014 when the drought was less serious than it is now.
All through the presentation the Board and staff deferred to McGourty as water expert. In theory, the workshop was the product of a water ad hoc committee of McGourty and Supervisor Maureen Mulheren. But McGourty dominated the discussion and the Board deferred to him time and again. In fact, he’s an expert on water for grapes, his personal concern as a grape grower.
Supervisor Mulheren wasn’t invited into McGourty’s presentation until the end and then only as an afterthought. She had nothing to add.
At the end of McGourty’s presentation proving the unprecedented seriousness of the drought to anyone with lingering doubts, Calfire’s Mendo Unit Chief George Gonzalez was the only person in the room who seemed to understand the gravity of the water situation. Gonzalez informed the Board that “there’s a dire need of a drought declaration. You need a task force approach. A drought emergency should be declared.”
But despite that authoritative unvarnished recommendation, McGourty was reluctant to consider it, saying he was worried about “unintended consequences.” [Like ag water restrictions?] McGourty preferred a more “collaborative” approach where drinking water and ag water are all sipping from one big happy straw in one already nearly empty punchbowl. [Historically most Mendo grapes have been — and a few still are being — dry farmed, albeit at less tonnage.]
McGourty noted that Governor Newsom has not issued a statewide drought emergency yet because he may be too busy with other crises, including the pandemic and his own possible recall. “A drought emergency is on the horizon,” conceded McGourty, “and we can come back to this within the month,” but, of course, not setting a date.
The Board then unanimously took McGourty’s lead and approved his Drought Preparedness Campaign which involves asking a non-County Agency, the Resource Conservation District, to develop inconsequential conservation suggestions like not running the water while brushing your teeth.
Supervisor Dan Gjerde’s only contribution to the subject was to almost irrelevantly suggest that the County “develop drought projects that can be funded by grants.” Unlikely as that is, even if any such projects could be developed it would be years before they’d make any difference to the ongoing drought.
In 2014 the drought declaration required that all the water districts in the unincorporated areas of the County prepare their own conservation proposals and submit them to the County Water Agency. But this essential declaration is still weeks away.
JACKSON STATE DEMONSTRATION FOREST DEMONSTRATION
Early this morning I went out with about 30-40 other locals prepared to defend trees in Jackson State Forest, logging did not arrive on the scene but their arrival is imminent. Two tree sits are up. It was good to spend pre-dawn hours in the woods with comrades. I even made it down to their tree sit, with some help from friends and only one fall. This is what I said for the press release,
“As our earth hurtles toward what could quite possibly be a human caused mass extinction, people all over the earth are waking once again to the profound depths of our relationship with mother earth. These actions here at JDSF are the community’s way of saying these public lands are not available for economic plunder or scientific experimentation.”
Here is pic of folks coming out to support the tree sit and protest of the JSDF outdated for profit THP where 200 year old redwoods along with many 100+ redwoods are marked for cutting.
There are 2 sits in two different trees now and they need ongoing support until CalFire yields to a reassessment of the the current THP. See image of MEC Notes to contact Naomi or Margy for location if you can show up and be a presence ongoing for the next week at least!!
JACKSON DEMONSTRATION STATE FOREST was purchased by the state in 1947 to “demonstrate” sound logging practices. CalFire has assumed responsibility for forest management, offices on North Main, Fort Bragg. The state says Jackson has always logged sustainably. This job will be done by the venerable Anderson Logging company out of Fort Bragg. The announcement that CalFire will log the 500 acres has predictably alarmed many residents of the upper Mendocino Coast over into Willits, the northeastern edge of Jackson State.
500 ACRES is a big demonstration of whatever CalFire claims to want to demonstrate, but it's really an anonymous decision somewhere deep in the CalFire bureaucracy to cash in on the presently sky high timber and lumber prices.
JACKSON STATE is probably more valuable to this area's economy as a hiking, biking and walk around in the woods de-urbanizing forest than it is in removing the few lucrative redwoods left over from the onslaughts of the 1940s.
GIVEN the ecological givens of global eco-collapse, no longer in dispute any sane place, and for all to see just offshore of the Mendocino Coast where the kelp beds have disappeared and the abalone with them, one would think that a publicly-owned forest like Jackson would be left alone.
WILL THE DEMONSTRATIONS stop the logging from beginning at Jackson State? The ongoing demo prob in Mendo and elsewhere on the Northcoast is numbers. The eco-warriors willing to confront the machinery unto arrest are few, the leadership, uh, not of the type large numbers of people will follow. And it will take a lot more people in the woods to stop this one.
THE FORT BRAGG City Council and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors should be petitioned to stop this project as unwise for the local economy, but the people driving the present demo bus, who see themselves more as franchise holders than people who will include as many other strategies as are feasible. Prediction. Woods kabuki: At some point, the cops will make a bunch of arrests, no charges will be filed, logging Jackson will commence and it will all be as if nothing happened. For reference, see 1990.
I took a walk on the old Guntley Ranch in Philo that is now a vineyard. I have always thought this was the prettiest property in the Valley. There is a dirt road that loops the whole ranch. When you get to those redwoods at the top of a small hill, you will find some magic there. It is what I call, “old Boonville”. It's the feeling in some of the more remote areas of the hills that no one has been out there in a very long time.
POT ENFORCEMENT NOW
Dear Board of Supervisors,
The situation is extremely urgent. The scale of blatant, large, illegal, cultivation sites is unbelievable in Redwood Valley.
The County could immediately use low technology solutions such as staffing field personnel to inspect the out in the open, obvious greenhouses mushroomed across the lands. There is publicly available imagery from last year that can be readily compared to applicant data.
It would be wise for the County to move towards a geo-referenced form of data storage that would be accessible in map form to personnel in the field, such as ESRI’s collector application. Before outsourcing, reach out to local firms.
We can do this, but it cannot wait.
Structure the penalties to pay for the program and warn the growers you are coming out in force.
Trees are being cut, hills graded, wells drilled, fields rocked, all within plain view of public roads. It is open season for lawless developers.
Within the last two years the zero enforcement approach has accelerated and now exploded into unrecognizable landscapes. Appalled neighbors are moving and making way for more illegal developments. It is all to blatantly obvious to believe the County has waited this long.
Help! Take action immediately. We love the trees, despise the grading and plastic, worry for our wells, and have lost the ability to walk safely in our rural neighborhood.
CHP CRACKDOWN ON 101, Online Comments:
1. I think I saw five CHP hiding around corners, overpasses, etc that day. Two northbound safety corridor, Murray overpass southbound, the corner near the slide on 299 by the scales, and one more I can’t remember. I didn’t see them driving around with traffic.
You can not identify drunk or otherwise impaired drivers like this. The only things you can identify in that brief glimpse of a vehicle are its speed and, occasionally, whether the driver has a cell phone to their ear. That CHP chooses to do this indicates that they do not actually care in the slightest about catching drunks, people sending texts, aggressive growdozers, people passing over double yellows around blind corners, distracted drivers who aren’t obviously holding a phone to their head, stoned drivers, people failing to stay on their side of the road around corners (a major cause of accidents on our highways – how often do you see “for an unknown reason, the party crossed the double yellow line” on a fatal accident report?), etc – only writing easy profitable tickets.
I drive most of the day, and I’d say that during daylight and evening hours, 5% of drivers you see are impaired, distracted, senile, or fucking idiots. You often can spot them from a literal mile away – drifting over the line and swerving back, repeatedly. Speeding up to match the speed of traffic passing them, or slowing down after they start passing someone, because they’re too impaired to set their own speed. Growdozers with texas plates (why is it always texas plates?) passing on blind corners. Big american sedans going 15mph under the speed limit and continuing straight until they almost hit a tree every time there’s a corner in the road, because the reaction time of the driver is so slow that they don’t notice the road is turning until they’re almost off it. Cars with drivers looking down at their laps with occasional glances up to see what’s happening in the world outside of their phone. Cars repeatedly creeping up on someone, slowing down, creeping back up on them, slowing down, repeatedly, as the drivers can’t maintain a proper following distance due to impairment or distraction. And on and on and on. All day, every day. Some times of night that figure goes way up – at around 3am, probably one in four drivers should be removed from the road. None of them are speeding, with the exception of the texas growdozer. Notice how, with all those speeding tickets, they didn’t catch even one drunk driver? The impaired and distracted people are often the slowest cars on the road. I’ve watched more than one car drive straight into a stationary object at under 10mph, or go right through red lights, even when other lanes of traffic were stopped, while driving slower than the other lanes were before they stopped. These are the people who are causing accidents. The people running late for work aren’t causing accidents. The old-time locals who drive 90 on 36 to and from town aren’t causing accidents. Faster drivers actually have lower accident rates.
I checked the journal, and I had the number slightly off – they found 80% of traffic fatalities were drunk drivers during the period they studied. This is, clearly, the major thing we need to target to improve road safety. Distracted drivers, primarily texting, is second. But what does the CHP do? They have their cops hide around corners, where they can’t, even if they wanted to, identify drunk drivers or texting drivers.
But they managed to rake in, what, $600k in one day?
2. Your focus on “cop hating” is pretty silly… The CHP is the last line of professional law-enforcement in the state. Their job is to keep people from acquiring bad habits, like speeding for instance…
The CHP has the doubty job of cleaning up fatal wrecks, delivering drunks to the hospital ER for “drunk tests”, and appearing in court to prosecute idiots who decide challenging authority is a good way to go…
Driving safely means sharing the road with everyone… Watch the corporate drivers, the guys driving for UPS, the Postal Service, Fed Ex etc… their driving is monitored, recorded, and if they drive dangerously, they might lose that fat paycheck and that Union benefit package!!
Learn to tolerate, co-exist, yield and “let-go”, or get the heck off the road, please!
Go to some Al-anon or AA meetings, and learn some coping skills: only 1$/meeting!
There’s a lot of people in the world, learn to love them.
Namaste, BT! Be safe, be well…
3. Yep, I’m aggressive toward drunk and distracted drivers. We need much harsher penalties for them. I’ve suggested on here in the past that we bring back public shaming – texting while driving should get you a couple days in the stocks with a big sign saying what you did, and a bucket of rotten fruit for people to toss at you. I’ve said that the lot next to the old co-op would be a great place for this – bring some old-timey punishment to the boardwalk for the tourists to see…
I think you misunderstand how corporate driving works. Drivers are ordered to get their routes done in the minimum time possible. Employers often order drivers to falsify timesheets and generally work as illegally as possible – it’s why we now have ELDs. UPS in particular is extremely harsh on drivers that don’t perform as quickly as they want.
As to cop hating… Have you actually looked at what the police does? They entirely ignore property crimes. Other areas have bait cars, etc – we do nothing of the sort. They make no effort whatsoever to stop repeat offenders from doing the exact same thing the next day. Underfunded, too few hours, too small of a prison, hiring freeze, whatever the excuse is this week. But when there’s assets to be seized, we can get a convoy of 20 trucks together no problem…
It’s fairly obvious their priority is lining their pockets, not benefiting the public. And then there’s the whole “let’s kneel on someone’s neck for 9 minutes” thing…
IF WE TEAR DOWN HISTORICAL MONUMENTS I strongly recommend those vacancies be replaced with 20-foot tall bronze statues of Yvonne De Carlo rearing up a stallion in her swimwear. This could bring America together.
— Eddie Muller
WRITTEN COMMENT ENCOURAGED FOR THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HEARING OF CANNABIS CULTIVATION AND CANNABIS FACILITIES ORDINANCES
At the Special Meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on Monday, April 19, 2021, Cannabis Cultivation and Cannabis Facilities Ordinances will be considered. Due to the high level of public interest on these matters, it is anticipated that the Board may not have sufficient time to hear from all speakers who sign up. Although the Board has scheduled a special meeting for these two items, early indications are that there may be more people wishing to speak on this item than there may be time available.
Consistent with the Brown Act and the Rules of Procedure for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, Board Chair Dan Gjerde anticipates that it may necessary to limit the total amount of time for public comment. Due to the volume of public interest, speaking time may be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Information and sign up for telecomment can be found here: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/board-of-supervisors/agendas-and-minutes/bos-telecomments.
Because time for oral comments may be limited, the public is encouraged to submit written comments in advance of the meeting by emailing the Board at email@example.com through the Mendocino County online eComment platform at https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.
“In recent years, county supervisors, county planning commissioners, and county staff have deliberated in dozens of public meetings on the terms and conditions for permitting the regulated portion of the cannabis industry in Mendocino County,” said Board Chair Dan Gjerde. “Monday’s two public hearings are a continuation of these many years of deliberations.”
For more information, please contact Clerk of the Board staff at (707) 463-4221.
BUTTS ON THE COAST - LOTS OF THEM!
April 6, 2021
Dear Manager Miller:
Given your breadth of experience and role in guiding the Council in setting goals, policies and priorities, I write to you mostly on behalf of the marine wildlife and valuable ocean that are our neighbors, as well with a desire to foster an increased sense of community care for our local environment.
I am delivering this letter and box of collected detritus for your review, both for its dramatic effect (to get City staff’s attention) and as proof of the extent of the existing problem, i.e. demonstrate non-hyperbolic nature of the issues. City Hall is locked up tight as can be, so I am unable to deliver this to your office. Rest assured that once staff has had an opportunity to inspect the contents, I will be glad to retrieve the box and contents if you just let me know where you will leave it outside for such retrieval.
In early September 2016, a group of residents presented a committee of the City Council with a proposal entitled, “A City Problem with No Ifs or Ands, But[t] many BUTTS!” It compiled information that had painstakingly been assembled over many days by volunteers. They had also conducted “butt-sweeps” of the City (mostly the CBD) and presented their “findings” in a large jar to the committee along with a proposal to embark on a campaign to eliminate or greatly reduce refuse-laden storm water offshore. Part of the group’s educational endeavor was to seek Council awareness of the “Big Butt Problem,” as they called it; also known as TPW (tobacco product waste).
* * *
April 13, 2021
Dear Manager Miller:
I am making a second delivery of collected detritus for your review, all retrieved over the past week at about two-day intervals and mostly just in the Central Business District. I won’t trouble with any further deliveries like this or correspondence, and am assuming based on not hearing from you or anyone else at City Hall, that there is no interest in discussing this problem. I will wait another week, as indicated, and then turn this over to the Water Board via a citizen complaint. Again, I remain quite willing to pick this box of refuse up from you after your inspection if you will leave it somewhere and notify me about retrieving it.
As you know, the problem has only worsened with the in-flow of greater tourist traffic and it is now quite common to find trash bins overflowing, particularly in the CBD, with refuse scattered about on the ground or, in one case on Main Street, an entire old tire left atop one bin. But you know all this already and I state it just to be clear for the record going forward. Please also see the attached recent photos including the detritus collected and delivered with this letter.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 13, 2021
CARMEN ARENS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
ERIC BACH, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
OSCAR CABEZAS-TAFOYA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JOHN DOYLE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
THOMAS HIDALGO, Ukiah. Arson of property, arson during an emergency, possession of arson materials or devices, concealed dirk-dagger, probation revocation.
SYLVIA HOAGLEN, Covelo. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
JEREMY KENYON, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance for sale, transportation.
MELISSA LANCE, Fort Bragg. DUI,, suspended license for DUI.
TANYA LANCE, Otis, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI, pot for sale, cultivation of more than six pot plants.
CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD, Potter Valley. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
NANCY MIDDLETON, Redwood Valley. DUI.
WILLIAM YOUNG, Willits. Domestic battery.
BIDEN TO ANNOUNCE WITHDRAWAL OF US TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN BY SEPTEMBER 11
President Joe Biden, having concluded there is no military solution to the security and political problems plaguing Afghanistan and determined to focus on more pressing national security challenges, will formally announce Wednesday that US troops will withdraw from the country before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, a senior administration official said.
DROP OUT OF SCHOOL before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read.
― Frank Zappa
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Many people I have overheard lately talking about having gotten the vaccine, talk about it as though it were a supremely honor-worthy rite of passage, a signal to the world that they have heard the message and now expect to receive the teacher’s gold star. They strike me that they want to toady to somebody, but they have no recipient for their toadying, so they spuriously and freely broadcast their message of having been oh-so-virtuous. Frankly, it’s more than a bit revolting.
THE TENACITY OF TREES
I ONCE SAT IN A MEETING about the meaning of self-care with a group of young women and one straight (I guess!) middle-aged man. The question was: What do you do to take care of your self each day? “Well, I wash my face,” the man tried. Each of the women present related how she began her day with a regimen of journaling followed by a full time job’s worth of emotional and physical maintenance. I was impressed, since my basic state is doglike torpor, and I wondered how much suffering each of them would experience without these practices. Maybe they would be locked up raving somewhere. Or maybe, freed from the burdens of our anxieties and skin suits, each would be running a Fortune 500 company. Which fate would be worse, anyway? What were we, I couldn't help but wonder (insert Carrie Bradshaw typing sound effect), behind the Korean skin masks we showed one another?
The question of our time is not, unfortunately, about how America created a system of poorly regulated militias that respond, instead of social workers, to people in distress, or why canned pumpkin isn't even pumpkin, or why we insist on carrying phones that identify us so readily to advertisers and the government, but: Who is the most important person in my life -- it's definitely me, right? Social media and the self-care industries, colluding and kinky partners in capitalist crime, say you must always put yourself first. They tell us that every other place is last. Any life spent assessing and asserting your ranking in this world will take you to some truly ugly places.
New York Review of Books
“I panicked when they said we could come out of our shells again.”
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
South from Saltillo, I was on the straight sloping road through the brownish, gravelly valleys of the Sierra Madre which bristled with thousands of dark single yucca trees, the so-called palma china, which had put me in mind of an army of bentback old men with wild hair. No traffic on my side of the highway, but a 14 mile backup of trailer trucks (I counted the miles on my odometer) stalled on the other side, waiting to pass a wrecked car.
The highway for most of the way to San Luis Potosi was a Cuota, a toll road, as opposed to a libre road, no toll. The libre roads were less well maintained and tended to cut through the small towns that the cuotas bypassed. The libre roads were crossed with speed bumps called topes, which bounced even the slowest car and scraped the undercarriage. The topes could be maddening but they did the trick, taking their revenge on speeders. The towns on these side roads had the restaurants, little inns (posadas), and motels which the cuotas lacked, but cuotas were generally faster and safer except when there was a wreck and the 18 wheelers might be stalled for miles.
‘CAPILLA DE SANTA MUERTE’ was daubed in blood red on a sign in a roadside settlement about 20 miles south of the small town of Matehuala. On my map this whole area was termed El Llano del Lobo — the Plain of the Wolf. Tempted by the names and remembering what I'd seen of Holy Death in the brothel of Matamoros, I pulled off the road to pay a visit.
“Good day, sir.” It was a woman fanning herself in a plastic chair just outside the entrance. There was nothing ecclesiastical about her faded dress or white apron, but she said the chapel was hers and she was the priestess -- and, waving her fan, said, “Come in, you are welcome.”
The chapel, a one-story cement building that perhaps had once been a shop, stood in a row of old unvisited shops coated in grayish dust -- selling cold drinks, farm equipment, tamales -- and one of the roadside tire repair businesses seen frequently in rural Mexico, “vulcanizing.”
Incense wafted from the chapel, the inside walls draped in white bunting and bouquets of plastic flowers. Next to the altar on the back wall was a life-size statue of Holy Death, with all her attributes. I had seen portraits and posters of this skeletal image, but this was the first time I beheld the whole frightening figure of La Santisima Muerte, in a white satin robe and virginal bridal gown, staring from hollow eye sockets and fixing me with a lipless grin. She held a sickle, as the image of Death the Leveler, and a globe and scapular, aspects (like the bridal gown) of the Virgin Mary, a familiar figure -- and a helpful one, a protector, a shield, offering hope to everyone, fortune to the poor, protection to criminals and narcos.
“I have pictures, I have beads.” The woman with the fan was whispering behind me. Seated outside, she had an air of authority, standing in the shadows of the chapel, among the skulls and bones, she was small and slightly humpbacked, one hand clutching her apron.
“I want to buy a picture,” I said.
The woman went to a table at the side and selected a ghoulish picture the size of a playing card.
“What you wish.”
I gave her some pesos, saying, “I'll come back.”
“This” — she tapped the picture — “will keep you safe.”
SWEET FREEDOM TO NOT MASK UP
Welcome to the Freedom Café!
We trust you to make your own choices if you want to wear a face mask. And in the same spirit of individual liberty, we allow our staff to make their own choices about the safety procedures they prefer to follow as they prepare and serve your food.
We encourage employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom, but understand that some people may be allergic to certain soaps or may simply prefer not to wash their hands. It is not our place to tell them what to do.
We understand that you may be used to chicken that has been cooked to 165 degrees. We do have to respect that some of our cooks may have seen a meme or a YouTube video saying that 100 degrees is fine and we do not want to encroach on their beliefs.
Some servers may wish to touch your food as they serve it. There is no reason that a healthy person with clean hands can’t touch your food. We will take their word for it that they are healthy and clean.
Water temperature and detergent are highly personal choices, and we allow our dishwashing team to decide how they’d prefer to wash the silverware you will put in your mouth.
Some of you may get sick, but almost everyone survives food poisoning. We think you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay for the sweet freedom of no one ever being told what to do, and especially not for the silly reason of keeping strangers healthy.
DO AWAY WITH PEOPLE blowin’ my mind
Do away with people wastin’ my precious time
Take me to a simple place
Where I can easily see my face
Maybe baby, I’ll see that you were kind
Know I love you baby, yes I do
Know I love you baby, yes I do
Do away with people laughin’ at my hair
Do away with people frownin’ on my precious cares
Take me to a circus tent
Where I can easily pay my rent
And all the other freaks will share my cares
Know I love you baby, yes I do
Know I love you baby, yes I do
Do away with things that come on obscene
Like hot rods, pre-cleaned real fine nicotine
Sometimes the price is sixty-five dollars
Prices like that make a grown man holler
‘Specially when it’s sold by a kid who’s only fifteen
Know I love you baby, yes I do
Know I love you baby, yes I do
“3/5 of a mile in 10 seconds” (216mph)
— Marty Balin
THE DAY I SAW YURI
April 12, 1961 — the day Yuri Gagarin of Russia broke free of the shackles of earth and became the first human to fly among the stars. For myself, a nearly 11-year-old, he was my hero. Then a miracle. Because I lived near Highgate Cemetery in London, I actually got to see him on his tour, as he laid a wreath at the grave of Karl Marx, as did all the visiting Soviet dignitaries. I remember his smile and wave as we locked eyes and I realized he was only as tall as me. Despite that memory, 60 years on, with a tad more jaded views, I look with great concern at our current burgeoning commercial and military space race.
THE PROBLEM WITH PARKLETS
Editor [of the SF Chronicle],
Parklets are unfair. They are unfair to the bookstore, dress shop, dry cleaners, etc. They take away parking the other merchants need. They only help the adjacent restaurants.
It’s time to return to pre-pandemic numbers.
HOW COULD A POLICE OFFICER MISTAKE a Gun for a Taser?
The chief of police for Brooklyn Center, Minn., where Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by a white officer on Sunday, said on Monday that the shooting was an accident. The officer, Kimberly A. Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, had intended to deploy her Taser, the chief said at a news conference, but had shot her service pistol instead.
After the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, Andy Beckett wrote in the London Review of Books, “the LAPD began to be brought under the same sort of political control – limited, but real – as police forces in most large democratic cities.” What “political control” there is of American police forces today is not democratic but judicial: more than twenty large urban police departments have agreed to let a federal judge oversee their operations (and, for example, to require that officers undergo diversity training) in exchange for an undertaking that officers will not be prosecuted or departments penalized for killing so many people. According to New Era of Public Safety, a report issued in 2019 by the Leadership Conference Education Fund, “from 2014 to 2018, police officers killed approximately a thousand people a year, committing 10% of the annual homicides in the United States … Roughly a quarter (24%) of people killed by police from 2015 to 2018 involved people with signs of unmet mental health needs.”
One of the first such agreements was reached in 2000 between the US Department of Justice and the LAPD in the wake of the Ramparts scandal. The story is complicated, but it seems that LAPD officers killed numerous people, including famous rappers, for sport; awarded playing cards to celebrate shootings (a red card for a wounding, a black card for a kill); framed innocent people for crimes they did not commit; and stole eight pounds of cocaine from a police evidence room, replacing it with Bisquick.
The Ramparts scandal convinced Mayor Hahn of Los Angeles to replace his police chief in 2002, a decision that has been linked to Hahn’s failure to be re-elected in 2005. As for Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, once an outspoken critic of police brutality, his spine disappeared after the NYPD police union used the occasion of his daughter’s arrest for peaceful protest last year to tweet her home address. In consideration for a father who merely wanted to protect his daughter from the cops, let’s not quote de Blasio’s actual words, but a headline from the Onion that summed up what he might as well have said: “It is an honor to have my daughter doxxed by the greatest police force in the world.”
DUE PROCESS IS GOOD, HE SAID CONTROVERSIALLY
by Matt Taibbi
This column is not really about Matt Gaetz.
I interviewed friend Glenn Greenwald yesterday about his new book, “Securing Democracy” (review on the way). For those not familiar, that’s the one where Glenn and his husband David Miranda shepherded a major corruption story into print, resulting in the freeing from prison of a left-leaning former president, defying the government of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, perhaps Donald Trump’s biggest supporter on the international political stage.
At the outset, Greenwald and I were joking because he was trending on Twitter again, the sixth time in six weeks (a non-Trump record?). He was listed just above Usher, whom the world was piling on for allegedly paying strippers in Vegas with $100 bills with his face on them instead of real money. The site exploded in “Usher bucks” memes, including a whole subgenre just about Usher jumping Harriet Tubman in line. This one got 4,000 likes:
Of course, we say “allegedly,” because you never know. The Sapphire club told TMZ that Usher spent thousands of real dollars on the dancers. There appears to be a statement on Instagram from the dancer who originally demanded Usher be “blasted” on social media, now saying, “I never said that was the ONLY money he threw.”
Who knows, but:
“I wish I was trending for that,” Greenwald joked. After his article about the Matt Gaetz case, trolls and blue checks rolled out an innuendo parade. He was a hypocrite for saying the New York Post’s Hunter Biden expose shouldn’t have been blocked, a “MAGA troll” who defends “40 year-olds who sleep with kids” (the contribution by “antiracism educator” Tim Wise), and a defender of white supremacists who hates women and is himself an ephebophile (look it up) who groomed his own husband, among many other things.
The first time I knew something changed on my side of the political aisle in the attitude toward accused people was the Maria Butina case. The New York Times ran a headline, “Maria Butina, Suspected Secret Agent, Used Sex in Covert Plan,” that was wrong in one place, and misleading in another. Butina hadn’t traded sex for information, just joked to a friend that that was all she could pay for his help in getting her car inspected. As for being a “Suspected Secret Agent,” that was only true if you were going by the definition of “agent” as per the “Agents of Foreign Governments” act, something south of genuine espionage, which most readers probably didn’t understand.
Even after the “mistake” about using sex was corrected, brethren in the press gleefully ran “Red Sparrow” stories, even though there was never much evidence, not that she traded sex, was a spy, or was knowingly anything. Her sentencing memo — this is her accusers speaking now — described her as “not a trained intelligence officer” but an “access agent” of a type that “may or may not be witting.”
She may very well have been guilty. Still, reporters and political liberals both were once more squeamish about accusing people of serious crimes, particularly sex crimes. The calculus in Butina’s case was that she was Russian who dated a Republican operative and mixed up somehow in the 2016 election scandal, making her a Trump person, so to hell with her. The Butina scandal came out as I was getting ready for the release of my book I Can’t Breathe, about the police killing of Eric Garner. I’m aware the vast majority of people who are unfairly treated either by the media or the criminal justice system are not suspected foreign agents or politicians. One of the reasons I wrote the Garner book is that I disliked off-hand media descriptions of him as an ex-con and petty criminal. Ordinary people, particularly poor people, are the ones most regularly railroaded, and no one needs to pore through social media looking for such injustices. You find them every day in criminal courts.
The only protection most have against accusations is in the law, and in whatever meager level of general respect the public maintains for it. In the Trump years, belief in concepts like the presumption of innocence started to erode among those who once believed most in them. Do people like Carter Page need reporters to weep for them? No, but there was never any evidence that Page was an “agent of a foreign power.” In fact, it turned out there was quite specific evidence that he worked with the C.I.A. against Russia. It should have been a basic issue of media propriety to be publicly sorry about that, even in brief, but it wasn’t.
One of the first things that caused Greenwald to run afoul of conventional wisdom was the observation with regard to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation that indictments are not proof. He was slammed, but what do you know, the government ended up dropping at least one of the cases Mueller filed against a Russian defendant, once the issue of having to publicly disclose evidence was raised. This was after the defendant called the government’s bluff and showed up in court — demonstrating, prosecutors later said bitterly, the defense’s “intent to reap the benefits of the Court’s jurisdiction.”
That argument — that the defendant’s intent to actually exercise legal rights shows guilt in itself — is the kind of thing liberals used to decry all the time, coming from “tough on crime” Republicans.
Opinions like that occur when you’ve fallen too far into the habit of judging people rather than evidence. Suddenly process becomes a canard, and you even get lawyers saying that hiring a lawyer is evidence of guilt: Whether it was unconcern with attorney-client privilege after the raid of Michael Cohen’s office, disinterest in the implications of the case of despised Julian Assange, or the embrace of concepts like “not exonerated” (the opposite of presumed innocence), people who probably once described themselves as progressives seem to have lost touch with core ideas in recent years.
That doesn’t mean running around proclaiming that O.J. didn’t do it or that such-and-such a politician isn’t an awful person who should probably be voted out of office. It doesn’t mean you can’t say something like, “Matt Gaetz should probably be jailed for his haircut alone.” It does mean distinctions exist and it’s good to know what you’re dealing with before strapping people in the dunking chair. This is particularly true in accusations of sex crime, where the public can quickly lose interest in rights, something organizations like the ACLU used to understand after watching debacles like the Wee Care and McMartin preschool cases.
With Gaetz, the Republican congressman from Florida, you’re not voting for the guy or raising money for his re-election campaign by asking for more to go on than an anonymously sourced New York Times articles. The paper cites “three people with knowledge of the encounters” in claiming Gaetz “had sex” with “multiple women,” while also claiming officials are examining “whether” he had sex with a 17-year-old and “whether” she was compensated for it. That means the possibilities run from Gaetz having consensual encounters with adults to consensual encounters with sex workers to, possibly, an encounter with a 17-year-old.
I don’t like stories like this because the Times gets to use a report of one kind of encounter to sell the possibility of another kind, for which they have less evidence. This is the same device that led to all sorts of problems in the story of Democratic congressional candidate Alex Morse, whose consensual adult encounters were spun into allegations of abuse and predation, and calls for his resignation. The Gaetz case is different in multiple ways, not the least being that his friend Joel Greenberg has already been federally indicted on 33 serious offenses, but from a reporting standpoint there’s almost nothing concrete in view yet with Gaetz himself.
That hasn’t stopped outlets from taking indulgences like “Gaetz’s allies now fear that Greenberg is preparing to strike a deal with prosecutors to deliver Gaetz.” Such speculations were a regular feature in Clinton-era scandals like Whitewater, and also in recent years, when stories like “Anxiety Grows for Trump After Raid On His Personal Lawyer” were common. Propping up a prostitution scandal using those grasping techniques looks particularly bad when a memoir written by the president’s son that includes scenes of hanging in motels with pimps and sex workers is being hailed all over as a “singular memoir of grief and addiction,” or “a gritty, self-realized, and honest account of addiction and grief” (do Vanity Fair and The Washington Post have the same headline writer?).
As to the people claiming that there’s hypocrisy in Greenwald’s attitude toward Hunter Biden versus Gaetz, come on. The issue with the Hunter Biden story was a) Facebook and Twitter blocking access to an expose during an election season, and b) the bulk of the press running with the outrageous, CIA-backed narrative that it was “Russian disinformation.” Greenwald has been consistent in his approach to cases like Gaetz’s dating back to the Eliot Spitzer affair.
None of this means Gaetz won’t eventually be found guilty. But there’s not even enough to know of what yet, and it can’t become a problem to say so in public. I know Glenn doesn’t care about the gross social media innuendo — he’s dealt with more serious problems — but the impact is on the next person with a byline who might be thinking about voicing an unpopular opinion. If that becomes impossible to do without being denounced as sexually predatory Russia-loving Trumpite scum, our political world will become even more of a wasteland than it already is.